Mat­tix, long­time Whig reporter, to re­tire

Will con­tinue to write weekly col­umn

Cecil Whig - - FRONT PAGE - By JOSH SHAN­NON

jshan­non@ce­cil­whig.com

— For many in Ce­cil County, the name Ch­eryl Mat­tix is syn­ony­mous with the Ce­cil Whig news­pa­per.

That’s why af­ter al­most 32 years of ded­i­ca­tion, her de­ci­sion to set down her notepad and pen and re­tire from full-time work at the county’s pa­per of record at the end of the year was not

ELKTON

an easy one to make.

“It was very hard in the end,” Mat­tix said Thurs­day. “I’ve been think­ing about it for a cou­ple years now, but it never felt right. I just felt it was time to let a younger gen­er­a­tion take over and en­joy time with my chil­dren and grand­chil­dren while I’m still able.”

Be­fore readers grow too wor­ried, how­ever, she won’t be dis­ap­pear­ing en­tirely from the Whig’s pages.

Mat­tix, 71, will con­tinue to write her pop­u­lar weekly busi­ness col­umn “Mat­tix on Mat­ters” for as long as she pleases, said Ja­cob Owens, the Whig’s man­ag­ing edi­tor. She will also tackle some sto­ries on a free­lance ba­sis into the new year and be­yond, while a full-time re­place­ment for county gov­ern­ment and busi­ness re­port­ing will be in­tro­duced in Jan­uary.

“Ch­eryl is an in­sti­tu­tion to the Whig, its readers and re­ally this county,” said Owens, who’s worked with Mat­tix since 2009. “While we would love to see her at

her desk ev­ery day, we re­al­ize that she has a fam­ily and life to lead out­side our walls. We wish her all the hap­pi­ness in what­ever pur­suits she un­der­takes.”

Mat­tix has served as the Whig’s lead county reporter for more than 15 years and in a num­ber of other roles over her ten­ure, in­clud­ing edi­tor of the for­mer Ce­cil and Har­ford Busi­ness Ledgers. She joined the Whig in 1985, when it was still a weekly and all re­porters used man­ual type­writ­ers, and has stayed through its tran­si­tion to an around-the-clock oper­a­tion that posts on­line first.

“I can still re­mem­ber hav­ing to de­scribe to readers what the in­ter­net was,” she said. “Now it’s just an ac­cepted part of life.”

Mat­tix grew up in Ho­bart, Ind., a small town near Gary, Ind., not un­like many found in Ce­cil County.

As the daugh­ter of a sin­gle mother fol­low­ing the un­ex­pected pass­ing of her fa­ther when she was young, Mat­tix said she watched as her mother went back to school to get a cler­i­cal job The very first “Mat­tix on Mat­ters” col­umn ap­peared in the Aug. 18, 2003, Ce­cil Whig, more than 13 years ago.

at the lo­cal mill.

“I def­i­nitely de­vel­oped a bit of my mother’s work ethic grow­ing up,” she said.

Mat­tix al­ways knew that she wanted to be a reporter, though she can’t ex­actly re­mem­ber if there was a par­tic­u­lar rea­son why.

“Peo­ple would al­ways tell me that I asked a lot of ques­tions when I was grow­ing up,” she said. “When I was a lit­tle girl, our lo­cal news­pa­per ran a cartoon called ‘Brenda Starr, Reporter,’ which my dad would read to me ev­ery week. That might

have had some­thing to do with it. I was en­tranced with all of the ad­ven­tures she would get into.”

What­ever the rea­son, Mat­tix ac­tively pur­sued her pas­sion in jour­nal­ism in high school, where she be­came edi­tor of the school pa­per. Af­ter 18 months of search­ing for ad­ven­ture af­ter grad­u­a­tion, she found her­self pur­su­ing her pas­sion again, this time at In­di­ana Univer­sity, where she wrote for the univer­sity’s In­di­ana Daily Stu­dent.

Af­ter col­lege Mat­tix got

mar­ried, trav­eled with her hus­band af­ter he was drafted into the U.S. Army, taught English and even helped her hus­band run sev­eral sport­ing goods stores when they re­turned to In­di­ana. She went on to have three sons and earn an In­di­ana real es­tate bro­ker li­cense.

In the early 1980s, Mat­tix’s ex-hus­band’s job was trans­ferred to the Ce­cil County area and she and the kids came with him.

“I was kind of a fish-out-ofwa­ter; I did some sub­sti­tute teach­ing in Ce­cil County pub­lic schools,” she said. “I de­cided to come check out the lo­cal Ce­cil Whig news­pa­per one day and give them my re­sume. My con­fi­dence was low as I hadn’t writ­ten any­thing in a num­ber of years, but pub­lisher Tom Bradlee came right out and greeted me. When he found out that I was from In­di­ana, he in­tro­duced me to fel­low Hoosier (for­mer Whig edi­tor) Don Her­ring. It was nice.”

While she wasn’t hired im­me­di­ately, a few months later Bradlee of­fered her a job to re­port on the Elkton town board and the county school board. She ac­cepted March 27, 1985. Within three years, Mat­tix be­gan cov­er­ing county pol­i­tics and

started a well-re­ceived busi­ness page with a weekly mort­gage chart.

In 1992, in an ef­fort to stay com­pet­i­tive with Har­ford County news­pa­pers, Bradlee pro­moted Mat­tix to edi­tor of the new monthly Ce­cil Busi­ness Ledger.

“He gave me a four-month win­dow to build a prod­uct from noth­ing, so it was a lot of learn­ing on the fly. Tom’s fa­mous last words were, ‘You’ll be fine,’” she said. “I re­mem­ber tak­ing notes from other mag­a­zines while sit­ting in O’Hare air­port on a trip home. I cre­ated a “Man of the Street” fea­ture and a Q&A with a busi­ness leader. I also cre­ated a front page fea­ture that jumped to the cen­ter spread.”

Mat­tix led the Ce­cil Busines Ledger un­til 1998, when Bradlee sent her to take over the newly-pur­chased Har­ford Busi­ness Ledger — the very pub­li­ca­tion that the CBL once com­peted against.

“I learned a lot about Har­ford County and met some great peo­ple as we did that prod­uct,” she said.

By 2001 though, the Whig brought Mat­tix back to re­port on county news, which she has done for the past 15 years. For nearly seven years in the early 2000s, she also spent the leg­isla­tive

ses­sion em­bed­ded with lo­cal law­mak­ers in An­napo­lis, fil­ing sto­ries from the state cap­i­tal. It was 13 years ago in Au­gust 2003 that she also filed her first “Mat­tix on Mat­ters” col­umn, which con­tin­ues to be pop­u­lar today.

She said that it is hard to be­lieve how far jour­nal­ism has come over the past three decades, with type­writ­ers over­taken by com­put­ers and X-Acto blades re­placed by InDe­sign to de­sign the printed prod­uct.

“If some­body told me 30 years ago that we could send pictures to our ed­i­tors us­ing a phone or sub­mit our ar­ti­cles from a com­puter at our home, I prob­a­bly would have laughed,” she said. “It’s amaz­ing to see the Whig where it is today. It keeps on truckin’, cel­e­brat­ing its 175th an­niver­sary this year.”

Mat­tix isn’t wor­ried about the state of jour­nal­ism ei­ther as she be­gins to wind down a decades-long ca­reer.

“Ob­vi­ously there will al­ways be a need for real news, es­pe­cially as peo­ple come to rely more and more upon so­cial me­dia and sound bites for in­for­ma­tion,” she said. “News­pa­pers were here long be­fore me, and I think they’ll be here long af­ter.”

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY JA­COB OWENS

Af­ter nearly 32 years of ser­vice to the Ce­cil Whig, reporter Ch­eryl Mat­tix will re­tire from full-time work, but will con­tinue writ­ing her weekly col­umn.

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY JES­SICA IANNETTA

Leeds El­e­men­tary School stu­dents sing dur­ing a per­for­mance at Sunny Acres As­sisted Liv­ing Fa­cil­ity.

CE­CIL WHIG AR­CHIVES

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